MILWAUKEE – In all honesty, the Milwaukee Bucks’ 119-118 victory over Washington Tuesday was a lot uglier and a lot tighter than it should have been. But at this stage of the game, the Bucks will take a win any way they can get one.
Especially when those victories come at the Bradley Center, where Milwaukee hadn’t won since defeating Miami, 105-97, on Feb. 1 – a stretch of six games.
In all, the Bucks are 8-8 and have lost six of seven at home since starting the season 7-2 at the Bradley Center. Of the many things they need to shore up in the second half, defending their home court is a top priority if reaching the playoffs is the goal.
“It’s real important,” said point guard Brandon Jennings, who finished with 14 points and 10 assists in 30 minutes. “The second half of the season, it was good to get a home win. We’ve got a three-game road trip now, which is going to be tough.”
The upcoming trip features three games in the next four days, beginning Wednesday in Boston. After taking Thursday off, the Bucks will face Atlanta and Orlando on back-to-back nights before returning home to host Philadelphia on Monday night.
Center Drew Gooden spoke with his teammates about winning at home before the team’s first post-All-Star break practice Monday.
“Not only do we have to worry about the small things but we have to worry about a huge thing, and that’s taking care of our home turf,” Gooden said. “We already know how tough it is to be a below-.500 team and trying to get wins on the road.”
The Bucks still have plenty to work on moving forward – especially on the defensive end, where they allowed Washington to score 118 points on 45.1 percent shooting – but winning at home and winning a close game, two things that eluded them for much of the last few weeks, is a reason for optimism at this point in the season.
“We’re glad to get the win,” coach Scott Skiles said. “From about the 4- or 5-minute mark in the second quarter on, they dominated us offensively. We were fortunate to win. We’ll take it, we’re glad we got it.”
Gooden leaves after fall: Gooden, playing for the first time in four games due to a torn ligament in his right wrist, left the game in the third quarter.
He fell to the ground after a hard foul by Washington’s Chris Singleton and after making a pair of free throws was taken to the locker room for treatment and evaluation. Gooden later returned to the bench but did not re-enter the game.
Skiles said that Gooden could have come back to play, but the coach opted to let him sit in large part due to the Wizards’ lineup at the time.
“(Trainer) Mark (Boff) said he was OK to go back in, but they had such a small lineup out there the whole second half so I was watching. I didn’t rule him out; I may have put him back in there.”
Gooden finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes. He was not available to reporters after the game.